Thanksgiving is not just about cutting through rubbery turkeys and wondering what's in the stuffing, passing around jiggly cranberry jelly and gooey pumpkin pie or hearing the same story told around the table from generation to generation. To some, it's about taking a step back from the daily routine to appreciate our loved ones, our friends, our blessings. And having fun traveling while we're at it!
San Francisco has become a Thanksgiving tradition to get away from the everyday and relax with my favorite people. There are many fantastic aspects to San Fran ... one being that in going to Cali, you win 3 hours from the East Coast. A lunchtime flight gets you there in time for l'apéro at XYZ Bar. Catching up with long lost friends over cosmos, mojitos and gin+tonics. House beats pump through the ambiance. Slip out to Infusion lounge to check out Scott's DJ'ing feats and old school hip hop in the next room to bring back memories. Like when names like 'Snoop' were hip. Lol.
These three words are sure to get you up after a jet-lagged night of socializing: heated indoor pool. Add a bubbly jacuzzi and a breathtaking panoramic view of the city and now we're talking. Vacation has begun. On the itinerary? Nothing set, but it would be nice to see some modern art in SoMa, hang with the hippies on Haight & Ashbury, pass characteristic Victorian townhomes dotting hilly historic streets, bargain for KidRobot figurines and silky pashminas in Chinatown.
Fisherman's Wharf, as much as it is a tourist trap, can be a fun distraction. Fat, brown harbor seals cheer you on as you try to gulf down an overflowing sourdough bread bowl of clam chowder, clowns on stilts and mimes breakdance to a saxophonist + trashcan drummer makeshift street band. Ghirardelli brings a smile to your face - albeit a goofy one, covered in hot fudge, as you slurp down your sundae. Bite into Peppermint bark and rich dark chocolate on one delectable little square, yum.
Back up Russian Hill in spiffy cable car digs to North Beach for la cena in a typical osteria italiana, where Chianti flows endlessly and the pizzaiolos are all smiles. Honestly, you're guaranteed a delicizio meal everywhere in this quartiere, but for the most memorable time, hit up Bocce with its interior garden terrace. Homemade gnocchi alla napolitana will make you forget about that low carb diet in an instant! Save room for freshly churned gelato at Caffè Greco. Zuppa ingelese has a punch to it, while baci is a classic flavor sure to please any pallette. And a scoop of caramello for Pammie, per piacere!
Another day, another adventure. Deciding to join the camera-clicking crowd of foreigners, we hike up curvy Lombard to see the city from up high. Then, postcard-worthy photos of the famed historic Victorian row houses on Steiner ... yep, just like in Full House, with neighbors walking Comet dogs at the park. Too bad the Olsen twins are all grown up.
Time for a late brunch at Cafe de la Presse; this has become a welcome tradition on each visit to SF. Omlette au feta pour moi, eggs benny à la Norvegienne pour lui. Deliciousness. Olchik, I missed you for the postcards and fluffly bowls of coffee!
With enough sunshine filling breezy November days, a stroll around the shops down Grant, Kearny and Maiden Lane turns into a quite redeeming Black Friday. Prada, anyone? Si, si, si! Grazie, caro.
After all that walking to break in new Paul Smiths, a pause in Union Square before the tree lighting ceremony is the perfect interlude. Somehow, despite the racket of kids muddling around the melting ice rink in such uncannily springy temperatures, this moment is still romantic. As the sun quietly sets in an array of blue, violet and rose hues, I lay my head on his shoulder and take in the warmth. Merci.
*Sigh* Back to nap, pack and get ready for the red-eye. One last evening at the W, tasting biodynamic reds of Côtes du Rhone. Swish, sniff, sip, savor. Repeat.
Do we really have to go? Next time we'll definitely spend some time in Sonoma and the Russian River Valley. Looking forward to meet the masterminds at Opus One and Frog's Leap. Maybe a detour to French Laundry along the way ...